Wednesday, 24 October 2012

We've moved

Thanks for visiting - please note that we have a new and improved website and blog at where you can keep up to date with current and forthcoming residencies.

This blog will be kept as an archive of the work from 2007 - Autumn 2012.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


Hello! I'm Alice and I am Artist in Residence at Spurn during this year. My residency is due to start very soon so I thought I'd introduce myself to those who already follow this blog. I'm thrilled to be following on from the previous artists that have worked at Spurn - what a wonderful place to take inspiration from.

I work mainly in textiles and printmaking. I completed a degree in Contemporary Surface Design & Textiles last year and am now working freelance as an artist. You can find out more about my work here and here. I use different print techniques in layers with hand stitch, sometimes using the stitches themselves to make texture for print. I am using paper a lot at the moment (many textile artists use paper): it is effectively a non-woven cloth, just like felt. I like the stiffness of it to stitch into.

I am committed to using colour from natural sources and like to experiment with mark making using colour directly from plant material and from rusty objects. Much of my recent work explores the kinds of marks that are found at the edge of water: the lines and ripples left on the beach; objects that have been discarded and sorted by the sea. I didn't set out to work to coastal themes but it is something that has developed over the past couple of years and now I have the opportunity to really bring these ideas together and explore Spurn, its detail and texture and its constant shifting of material.

My work is fairly abstract. There may be suggestions of recognizable things but really I'm interested in conveying a sense of something rather than depicting things as they are. I sketch a lot as a starting point to any project so some of the first things you will see from my time at Spurn will be drawings. I use drawing as a way of recording my experience of a place.

My background prior to being an artist was in nature conservation. I used to work for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust as one of the Otters and Rivers Project Officers. My first degree was in physical geography so my artistic practice has a firm backdrop in landscape and environmental issues.

I hope to keep this blog updated at least once a week during the next 6 months or so and I'd love to hear from readers who have followed the various artists in residence at Spurn so do please feel free to comment on my posts.

Monday, 20 June 2011

The Churning Wind Inside the Lighthouse

23rd May 2011

Monday Afternoon

It’s very windy. From my usual vantage point as I sit at the uppermost level of the lighthouse, the south westerly is blowing though the brass vents as it has for one hundred years and swirls round in this inner space once trapped inside. There’s a lot of noise as the wind churns around the tower. It’s very loud actually. Louder than usual.

The paper of my note book is flapping as I write this. And I’m adding layers. The T-shirt I arrived in has been superseded by a fleece and scarf. The sunnies replaced by a hat and as soon as my bodily thermometre – my nose and hands – indicate, I’ll have to replace my jeans with my ‘Ron ‘ills’ and heavyweight waterproofs. I’m regretting not bringing my salapettes. I may have to resort to sitting in my sleeping bag before long.

The rain has followed the wind. I was planning to work outside on this trip. Hoping to do exteriors of the lighthouse. Oooo I could always go and repark the car and go sit in it. Good thinking especially if this keeps up and there’s no sunset or sunrise to be had. Oh well.

Yes I could have checked the weather before I came but I was determined to get here whatever the weather. Ok feet are getting cold I think it’s time to change from trainers to long socks and walking boots.

Monday Evening before sunset 8pm

The little red spiders are back. They can’t be money spiders as I’m still as poor as I was last year when I saw them. Despite the lack of an obvious food source they must be eeking out a living somehow. I like to think I’m contributing to their little livelihood with the occasional dropped crumb or other miniscule food debris or skin flakes - as they must be having little families because they are back at the Lighthouse this year.

When my old friend Martin who lives in Canada read last years blog, I think entitled ‘I am not alone’ which described my first close encounter with the same little red creatures – he told me that it reminded him of the Tom Hanks character in ‘Castaway’ who befriends a washed up football! Which I agree was rather funny and perhaps a somewhat accurate comparison but frankly I can’t see what’s sad about befriending a football.

Was going to write that the wind had dropped. But as I’ve started writing it’s suddenly started to blast. The rains stopped certainly. And by the looks of the sky beginning to clear I’m due a sunset but one never knows which way it’s gonna go. With the May sun setting at the horizon of Immingham/Killinghome oil refineries it will be filtered by the polluted air from the oil refineries on the Humber bank which I’ve observed gives a yellow hue. So bets on for an orange sunset

Sketch 1 Cloud bank same colour as sea.

First layer of land – grey.

Back layer orangey with outline

Sketch 2 Layer of land grey/violet

25th May 2011

Wednesday 5.55am

Up at 4.30 to wait for the sunrise at 4.45am. It was a clear sky so as with the sunset and yesterday’s sunrise it was a globe. So not great from the perspective of the discriminating eye of the artist but great from a (ooooo dare I say it?) spiritual perspective. But I’ve written along the same lines before so I’ll try not to repeat myself.

Though watching the sun emerge from the sea is a very special moment and one that is rare in my life apart from when I’m here. So I discard my hunger and visual greed as an artist and just watch and be. And how beautiful. Beyond words especially beyond the inadequate verbal bumblings of a visual artist. I let it happen and allow myself to be moved in a silent, inexplicable, simple way which lasts only a couple of minutes before the sun becomes too powerful and starts to burn holes in my retina! It still gets me and will always foster intrigue and fascination. That the only time we can look at the sun with the naked eye is at those two periods of transition from night to day and day to night. At other times we squint from the suns intensity and we shade our eyes for protection. Occasionally through cloud cover we may see the suns globe but then the sun is small in comparison to the rising or setting sun and it’s white or silver like the moon. At the horizon she is fat and pink or orange or golden.

Today I watched the sun change colour as she entered the haze of cloud above the horizon. I watched the pink globe become orange as she moved into a hue of orange from a hue of purple. This was visually interesting. And although the sketch is rough and clumsy if I’d taken a photo Bam! The sun would be yellow and the sky orange.
But cameras do have their uses and are useful tools of reference. And after the sun became too intense, I dashed down the 140 steps to take photos of the lighthouse with the young sun.As I climbed through the sand dunes I came across a roe deer which spotted me and disappeared along the opposite path.
Obviously the photos never capture what the eye sees (the sky wasn't orange!) but next time I’ll be prepared with my chair, sketch book etc and set up shop in the sand dunes after catching the sunrise up here.

Oooo cannee wait to be back.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Commission casts new light on the traditional seaside postcard and new colour onto my palette

As part of the Rennaissance Project for Cleethorpes three local artists Tracey Edges, Bill Meek and myself have been asked to produce the artwork for postcards. It’s great to have been asked to get involved and great that the traditional postcard format for a seaside town is being challenged. Rather than the mass produced, generic postcard of Cleethorpes Pier, which could be any seaside town in the UK, our postcards will offer a view through the subjective & selective eyes of three very different artists.

The three postcards I am working on are views of Cleethorpes at sunrise.
Sunrise 1 is the view under the Pier with the Fort on the horizon.
Sunrise 2 is sunrise and the Fort
Sunrise 3 is sunrise at the Boating Lake

Sunrise 1 - Sketch 1
The postcard commission is also challenging my practice in many ways. The work is more figurative and in particular I’m having a whole new palette experience! The orange spectrum colours in Sunrise 1 & 3 are clean, fresh and straightforward. Basically, an orange is lightened by a warm (cobalt) yellow or a cold (lemon) yellow. But the pinks! Wow! The pinks of Sunrise 2 are a whole new colour ball game. It’s difficult but exciting.

Sunrise 1 - Sketch 2

Sunrise 1 - Sketch 3 complete

Sunrise 1 - painting unfinished

Sunrise 1 - painting unfinished - detail

On this blog, I try to avoid referring to my life other than my life as a painter. But writing the blog has helped me realise a change in my work that is also reflected in my life and until writing the notes I was unaware of this parallel. Life reflecting art and all that. One’s work is so intertwined with ones life it is impossible to distinguish which is influencing which. I am entering into a crimson phase!

Sunrise 2 - Sketch 1

It’s funny because pink and purples are colours that I really enjoy and appeal to me in my life generally for example in my choice of clothing, flowers or living environment. This is a new development. I have moved away from the turquoise blue, the colour which was the inspiration for all my lagoon paintings (and clothing!). The blue spectrum I know so well that working it has become instinctive. I can recognise the subtlest difference and mix the nuance of colour without a thought having to register in my conscious/critical mind. The pink/purple spectrum is something I know very little about on the palette.

Sunrise 2 - Sketch 2

The colours emerging are rich, sumptuous & consuming. Back in my college days alizarin crimson was the only part of the pink/purple spectrum we were issued each term. There were loads of mucky browns and ochres but no passionate, vibrant, energising pinks or purples to be had!

Sunrise 2 - Sketch 3

Sunrise 2 - Painting detail - unfinished

Sunrise 3 - Sketch complete

Sunrise 3 - painting detail unfinished

There is a whole new world of colour opening up to me. Even the pigment names are gorgeously unfamiliar and descriptive. While the blue hues are as familiar as old friends.

Magenta lightened by titanium white is a rich pinky purple.
Permanent geranium and titanium creates a sweet candyfloss pink.
Rose madder and titanium creates the classic pink of the Pinks, a carnation pink.
Mmmmmmmm. So gorgeous I could eat-cha!!

Bless the weather…

1st & 2nd April 2011

Blessed with good weather.

Blessed with good company.

Blessed with good sunrises and now clear blue skies.

I couldn’t wish to be anywhere but here at Spurn, at the Lighthouse.

It’s good to be back.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Scribbled Sunrise Spectacle

Saturday 18th September 2010

Well I’ll have to go home. Run out of paper. Had to use a discarded sketch to draw my last sketch. The sunrise was a real spectacle. Bit overwhelming and beyond the limitations of me and the pastels. But I had a scribble anyway. So I’d better pack away before I start thinking how sad it is to be going. Only three more weeks till I return. I’ll try to stay a little longer next time.

Just stopped as I was driving away long this narrow lane to let traffic by and was compelled to write –
this place is very special.
Very special. I’m glad I had to stop so I could note this. Very special.
In a city, in the metropolis people say ‘you can be anonymous’. Here – in isolation I can be mySELF.

And It All Went Pink Over GY!

Friday 17th September 2010

It is a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. A bit of haze to the horizon but the cloud that so strongly featured in the sketches at sunrise has been burned out white now. I can feel the suns warmth on my face. Mmm. Particularly good because there is such a strong off shore wind. I know it is off shore because I can see spray from the waves from the action of the wind. It appears to be trying to push the waves back but that pull from the old moon is too strong. that!

Am not alone! Don’t worry I’m not having one of my mystical funny turns! The flying ants are gone. Probably dead as there’s no way out apart from a couple of cracks in the glass as the desiccated pigeon up in the rafters is proof. This time I’m sharing the lighthouse with tiny red spiders. Not ‘mite’ the peril of tomato growers. Bigger and cuter than those! And funny as they appear very determined and in a hurry all the time. I think to children they’d be known as money spiders. Hope so.

The suns still shining. Oo good there’s a bit of cloud gathering.

It's all gone pink over GY!

And it’s gone. Five minutes earlier was singingthe R & B masterpiece (joke) ‘This is why we do it’! And now it’s gone all gone! The visual feast is over.

I’m quite overwhelmed! Just had five minutes just sitting. And breathing! I can breathe again now it’s all over! That was the best yet!

This cold clear night allowed me to observe the moon three quarters full. And it’s trajectory is really flat. It has moved along the points of the compass in my circular room from S to SW without hardly dropping. And it never reached high in the sky. About 45 degrees at it’s zenith.